George Weston reports fourth-quarter profit and sales up from year ago

George Weston Ltd. reported higher sales and profit in its most recent quarter, as it says its bakery business has started to stabilize amid a multi-year transformation plan.

The company earned $271 million attributable to its common shareholders or $1.86 per diluted share for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. That compared with a profit of $34 million or 27 cents per share in the same period a year earlier, before it issued about 26.6 million shares in connection with the spin-out of Loblaw’s interest in Choice Properties.

Sales totalled $11.72 billion, up from $11.40 billion a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, George Weston earned $232 million or $1.59 per share for its most recent quarter, compared with $226 million or $1.76 per share a year earlier.

The average analyst estimate had been for a profit of $1.57 per share, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

“We’re clearly disappointed by our 2018 performance,” said Richard Dufrense, George Weston’s president, during a conference call with analysts Tuesday after the company released its fourth-quarter and full-year results.

He noted that benefits of the company’s three-year transformation program, launched during the fourth quarter of its 2017 financial year, are flowing through and the company is seeing that in its results this year, as well as planning on them for the future.

The transformation plan included a planned reduction in offerings that would see 800 products eliminated. CEO Galen Weston said the company is about 80 per cent of the way through that process and it will continue through 2019.

Dufrense declined to comment when the company expects to add a previously anticipated $100 million to its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

The company’s outlook foresees that number dipping slightly in 2019 as it expects to face a number of headwinds, including higher input and distribution costs in an inflationary environment.

The baking business is showing early signs of stabilization, wrote Irene Nattel, an analyst with RBI Dominion Securities Inc., in a note.

“We expect investor interest in (George Weston) to remain tepid until we see tangible signs of recovery in the baking business,” she said.

George Weston Ltd. operates Weston Foods, including bakery operations in Canada and the U.S., Loblaw and Choice Properties.

For the full year, the company earned $530 million attributable to common shareholders or $3.99 per diluted share, down from $722 million or $5.58 per share in 2017. Adjusted profits were $908 million or $6.85 per share, compared with $903 million or $6.99 a year ago. Sales increased to $48.6 million from $48.3 million.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, George Weston shares lost $3.26 or 3.4 per cent at $92.11 in midday trading.

Just Posted

Rural communities could face policing bills

Province considering getting smaller and rural communities to pick up a portion of policing costs

Random Acts of Green Canadian tour comes to Red Deer

Red Deerians are being encouraged to lessen their impact on the environment.… Continue reading

Free blood testing for HIV, Hep C, syphilis offered Thursday in Red Deer

Anyone can drop by from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bower Ponds pavilion

Red Deer economy bouncing back but slowly: report

While Red Deer’s economy has been in recovery mode for the past… Continue reading

Red Deer cyclist dead after being hit by vehicle

A Red Deer cyclist was killed when he was struck by a… Continue reading

WATCH: 2019 Canada Winter Games will leave a lasting legacy, say organizers

It leaves Red Deer with the infrastructure and confidence to host future such events

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Couche-Tard wants to be a player in the sale of cannabis

LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. wants to be one of the… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: A safe supply of water has long been a priority for Red Deer

The oldest part of the Red Deer water treatment plant on 54th… Continue reading

New parent charged in admissions scam, linked to $400K bribe

BOSTON — A woman accused of paying $400,000 to get her son… Continue reading

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re “stepping away” from ice dancing

Canadian ice dancing stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir say they are… Continue reading

Bruce Cockburn avoids impulse to get political with lyric-less new album

TORONTO — If anyone is looking for activist folk singer Bruce Cockburn… Continue reading

13 seasons in, stars reflect on success of ‘Heartland,’ Canada’s ‘comfort food’

HIGH RIVER, Alta. — Alberta-born actor Shaun Johnston had already had a… Continue reading

N.S. senior whose birthday card request drew international response dies

SYDNEY, N.S. — A Nova Scotia widower who received thousands of birthday… Continue reading

Most Read